By William Markiewicz

Jaruzelski, who proclaimed martial law in order to smash the Solidarity movement, became the first elected president of post-Communist Poland. In spite of his oppressive measures the nation didn't lose faith in his honesty and good intentions. He explained, and the nation believed him, that martial law was the only way to prevent a Soviet invasion of Poland. The past showed that the Soviet Union was quite ready to invade, so his apprehension was not gratuitous. Had the Soviets attacked, the Poles would have resisted with incalculable consequences for Poland; just look what happened to Serbia after Nato's invasion. So, putting him on trial now completely lacks common sense and is everything less an expression of justice.

The Polish romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, in his epic poem "Konrad Wallenrod" situated in the fourteenth century, describes a Lithuanian hero who, using the name Konrad Wallenrod, became Great Master of the Teutonic Knights and from this position served Lithuanian interests. Jaruzelski, in his double game of reassuring the Soviets and serving de facto Polish interests, could be named, in my view, the Konrad Wallenrod of modern times.

Martial Law was brutal, as Martial Law always is. Can Jaruzelski be held to account for all the bad things that happened? I don't know if Jaruzelski made some great mistakes or not. In the past, individuals were judged by the sum of their actions; great merits outweighed smaller offenses and vice versa. Today each case is judged separately without consideration for the whole story. Personality disappears, becomes the arithmetical sum of particular steps. Individuals are atomized like some physical conglomerate of particles. Is this evolution in human thought or, on the contrary, entropy?

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